Tuesday, 22 February 2011

DU dossier sent to Defence Secretary

Here's one that recently slipped by me, and no doubt many:

MSP sends dossier on depleted uranium to Defence Secretary: come clean on dirty bombs!

Dr Bill Wilson MSP (SNP) has sent the Defence Secretary, Liam Fox, a dossier containing what he describes as “significant evidence pointing to the devastating effects of depleted uranium (DU) on the health of armed services personnel and civilians, and of the UK and USA’s attempts to suppress such evidence and prevent the investigation of the effects of DU” and called on the UK Government to take appropriate action.
DU = dirty bombs
Dr Wilson said, “There is much talk about terrorists potentially using ‘dirty bombs’, i.e. weapons which emit radiation and indiscriminately affect anyone in the vicinity, yet the USA, the UK and Israel have deployed many tonnes of DU-tipped shells. DU has a half-life of 4.5 billion years and the microscopic uranium oxide dust that DU shells produce on impact can be blown hundreds of miles, inhaled and ingested. If these are not dirty bombs then what are they?
“There is considerable evidence that thousands of armed services personnel, their families and countless civilians have been and are continuing to be affected by DU in many ways, suffering, for example, premature death, respiratory problems, cancers, stillbirths and birth deformities.

Read the rest at Global Research

Update: I'm adding this interview with Dr Doug Rokke, an expert on DU, and someone who has suffered himself from exposure during the first Gulf War:

Part two; Part three.


Quiet_Man said...

Or we could just keep on using tank busting weapons that work.

Trooper Thompson said...

Is that all that matters? No concerns for our soldiers who are exposed? No concerns for the civilian victims? You know, the ones the soldiers are supposed to be saving?

Are you denying the case against DU, or just saying it's a price worth paying?

Angry Exile said...

As I recall the radiation of anything with a very long half life is very low level, so the dirty bomb label is a little misleading when the public conditioning is more towards something that creates instant fallout over a large area. However, it is toxic and that may be an issue. I'd have said a chemical weapon analogy would have been better than the dirty bomb one, though in truth U238 isn't terribly good at either compared to things designed for those tasks.

As to its use, I'm sitting on the fence on that one. Nuclear weapons for defensive use certainly don't keep me awake at night, and while the depleted uranium problem, and I'm not sure the jury is in on hat, is exacerbated by it being thought of as a conventional weapon and therefore used fairly freely I think the responsibility for that lies with certain national leaders who've chosen to initiate wars with more rationalising than reasoning. Had they not then it would be like nukes - bad if used but just a theoretical issue if the trigger is never pulled.

Another point to consider: lead is also a toxic metal, and that goes into ammunition in truly incredible quantities. We don't worry too much about lead poisoning from bullets, though it's a big enough issue that certain bird and clay shooting grounds ask shooters to use cartridges loaded with steel shot instead.

will said...

this post
generated some enlightening (for my scientifically ignorant brain atleast) points. turns out background radiation such as experienced around DU munitions can be found in foods, building materials, airtravel and sunlight.

this article exlpores the 'banana equivalent dose' measurement. in particular the comments on the BED article are full of excellent links re radiation etc. lots of new scientist and academic stuff debunking common fearmongering. could equally be wrong tho - who knows?


ive just spent 20mins trying to find the link to an article i read debunking the threat of politicians' favourite - the dirty bomb. i cant find the article now but it basically said that a DB would not be difficult to fund or source but it would be almost prohibitively hazardous to make or use. not that martyrs arent prepared to die for their cause but the article explained they would be physically unable to spend more than 10 minutes exposed whilst making and transporting the device.
it also explains that the bomb part is merely a distributive method and such emotive terms only fuel the fearmongering. it is a weapon of mass disrutption not destruction. a dirty attack on water supplies would be easier and more effective.

on the subject of DU munitions im unsure. "the microscopic uranium oxide dust that DU shells produce on impact can be blown hundreds of miles, inhaled and ingested" but so can similar dust from the 2000+ nuclear test explosions. neither are good and ignoring the lesser of two evils is hardly consistent.
obviously im against offensive violence and in particular statist wars. however there's going to be defensive tools under anarchy and guns and DU munitions may well be part of that. how a voluntary legal system might approach the issue of 'aggression' from indirect exposure to radioactive sources is beyond me. ive read a fair bit of stuff re free market environmentalism and pollution control. in particular one source mentioned that airborne pollution from the first industrial factories was legally challenged by sheep farmers but the corporatist state intervened and set a legal precedent that continues to protect the invasion of property rights by airborne particulates.

will said...

found the bugger!


Trooper Thompson said...

Thanks for the comments, chaps, I've updated the post with an interview, which will make the case against DU.

Angry Exile said...

I don't know about anyone else but I wasn't saying there's no case against it. I was saying there's a case against describing its use as equivalent to a dirty bomb. Putting the argument against it in terms that don't stand up well I feel is a losing strategy.

However, so is keeping inferior weapons because we're afraid of using the most effective ones. I think the real problem with DU is that the in the course of Bush and Blair's adventures (I'll give the elder Bush and Thatcher a reluctant pass for Gulf War 1 since Gulf War Syndrome was obviously unheard of at the time) there's been some fairly heavy use of DU. That there may be health issues shouldn't stop us having it handy if the worry about not being able to use it is greater than the worry over its use. Nukes are far worse but we still have them (well, not here in Oz of course, but you know what I mean) despite all that. Often just pointing the gun can be an effective deterrent, but only if it's known or at least believed that there are indeed bullets in it. So it is with nukes and DU ammunition.

In short if there is a case to be made against it I'd suggest that it's against casual and profligate use of it rather than against having it available as an option.

Trooper Thompson said...


I agree with your point about using the dirty bomb. I think that's a politician trying to employ rhetoric, rather than a serious argument.

It is obviously a very effective weapon, but that is not enough to justify its use if the effects are so indiscriminate and long-lasting.

Angry Exile said...

It is obviously a very effective weapon, but that is not enough to justify its use if the effects are so indiscriminate and long-lasting.

I feel that rather depends on the circumstances of its use, though admittedly its use thus far probably has not been justified (assuming of course that the theories of health effects are correct).

James Higham said...

Important topic, Trooper. Thanks for airing it.